St. Mary Formosa Church

Pula, Croatia

The Basilica of St. Mary Formosa dates back to the 6th century. It is an exceptionally important Early Christian monument. Unfortunately, only the south chapel, shaped as a Greek cross, has been preserved.

Located in the south of the old town core, St. Mary Formosa is one of the most significant Early Christian monuments of the Byzantine art and architecture in Istria and Croatia. It was commissioned by Archbishop Maximianus of Ravenna from the vicinity of Rovinj, who also had San Vitale and San Appolinare in Classe erected, both in Ravenna.

The magnificent three-nave basilica was divided into three naves by columns, which interior rhythm was repeated on its exterior perimetral walls, the window division and blind arch lesenes. The sanctuary was completed by three polygonal arches and two side chapels next to it. Only the south chapel has been fully preserved until today, while the major part of the northern one was built into the neighbouring residential buildings.

The basilica's northern wall is today visible only as a fence surrounding the neighbouring garden. The chapel is designed as a Greek cross, one of which arms ends in a semi-circular axis, while its central part, the point where the two arms cross, is higher than the others. The sanctuary is covered by the quadro-pitched roof, while the remaining part of the structure has dual-pitched roofs. The exterior is simple, decorated by shallow lesenes, blind arches and semi-circular windows. It got ruined, especially during the 1242 fire at the time of the Venetian conquest of Pula. A large portion of its inventory was shipped to Venice, where it was used in building the St. Mark's Library or Sale delle quattro porte of the Doge's Palace.

In the late 16th century, the basilica was already in ruins.

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Details

Founded: 6th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Croatia

More Information

www.istria-culture.com

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ole Gerdt Andersen (16 months ago)
Stille og roligt kirke.
Ivan Martinovic (19 months ago)
Prelijepa ostavstina,sacuvati od zaborava
Caroline Lovrinovic (20 months ago)
6thC church & ruins located at the south of the old town.
Elis Konović (2 years ago)
Predivna povijesna građevina, odnosno ostaci građevine.. Svakako vidjeti, trenutno su u tijeku radovi na iskopinama
Toni Krasnic (4 years ago)
Dates back to 6th century. Only the south chapel is still there, which is shaped as a Greek cross.
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The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

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The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

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